First of all, apologies for the delay. I have been on the verge of abandoning this story so many times. But I come back. There is this sense of leaving the task unfinished that doesn’t let me work on a new book. I am really really trying to finish this one. Its not that i dont love this story, just that new interesting things come up, work takes time and so on.
So sorry to all of you who are following this one. I am already working on the next chapter. there are about 6-7 chapters to the end of this one. I hope you guys are still with me when I reach the finish line. 🙂
On the other front, DUST of AGES: An 1857 romance is out – this is the full volume- right from start to the end. please do read and review. Everyone who hasn’t read it, please do read and review. Would mean a lot to me. You can learn more about it and read the first few chapters here.
And without further ado, the next chapter of Chandrataal.
His mouth moved over hers in a whisper of a kiss. She felt is the slight roughness of his lips as they lingered around the corner of her mouth, moving on to her cheek. A tingle began in her toes and reached up her spine as Khushi crowded closer, her own arms rising to the side of his neck before she gave up on common sense and let them go around him.
Arnav exhaled sharply feeling the thrill of her arms and her soft body envelope him. He tilted her head a little more and took her mouth in a deep kiss. An exquisite sensation shot through his whole being to feel her response. His own lips parted as unreservedly as he kissed her, thrilled to feel her arms tighten about him in response. He explored the sweet intoxicating secrets of her mouth before moving on to kiss the hollow in her throat, making her moan with pleasure as he trailed kisses to the shell of her ear. Leaning a bit more on the walking stick, Arnav let his free hand roam across her back before encircling her waist and pulling her flush against him.
Khushi clung to him, straining to get closer, her hands sliding beneath his jacket, the feel of the heat of his body through the shirt.
The sharp ring of his phone penetrated through the haze of desire yet they ignored it. His heart skipped a beat as he felt her teeth bit the soft skin of his neck where it met his shoulder before soothing the pain with an open mouthed kiss.
Whoever was calling him, disconnected and then called again. Both of them groaned together and Arnav heard her chuckle before he raised his head to look at her. Desire shimmering in her gaze made him shudder. ‘You phone is ringing.’ She whispered.
He nodded and bent to rub his cheek against hers, making no effort to take the call.
‘It could be someone important.’ She whispered. ‘It could be Anjili, or Raghav.’
He sighed before stepping back reluctantly and taking the call. Khushi instantly felt the loss of warmth.
‘Yes, Raghav,’ he said in the phone.
Khushi watched as his mouth tightened.
‘I know it is dark. I can find my back.’ He said tersely. ‘You can go to sleep.’
Raghav must have said something about her, for he turned to her and nodded. ‘Yes, Khushi is with me.’ Arnav reached up to tuck a stray lock behind her ear. ‘We will be back soon,’ he told Raghav before disconnecting.
Khushi’s face came up as he stepped closer. Desire beckoned once again. Khushi tried to hold on to sanity this time. ‘He…I mean, Raghav, he must be worried.’
‘yes,’ Arnav whispered as bent to kiss her forehead lightly.
‘Its dark,’ she folded her fingers into tight fists, resisting the urge to reach up and stroke is face.
‘So it is,’ he kissed her ear lobe.
‘Shall we…we must go home.’ She stammered
Arnav raised his head to look into her face. His own eyes were blank except for the remains of the desire that still burnt along the edges.
‘Let’s go back,’ Khushi persisted.
He nodded as he stepped back and without any word, began the trek back to the house.
Unlike their walk to the firefly meadow, this time there was an awkward silence and a distance that opened up between them as Khushi tried to make sense of what had happened. Arnav, on the other hand seemed to be lost in his own thoughts.
In the hallway, he turned to her as if to say something.
‘I…I am tired,’ Khushi forestalled him. She needed time to process the event of the evening, before she could talk about it. ‘I will call it a day I think.’
Silence followed her words as Arnav gazed at her through narrow eyes. And then he nodded abruptly and looked away. Khushi sighed with relief as she saw Raghav behind him.
‘There you are. I was worried, Bhaiyya. It is going to rain tonight. Do you want coffee, Khushiji.’
‘No,’ Arnav intervened. ‘She is tired and is going to bed.’ He told Raghav before moving towards the sitting room. Khushi wondered if she had heard a sneer somewhere in those innocuous words.
Back in her room, she relived the kiss a thousand times. As she brushed her hair, her eyes were drawn to her lips – slightly swollen and red. She remembered the warm and rough feel of his mouth and brushed her fingers against her lips. How she had reacted? How she had not offered a single word of resistance and flown into his arms? But even the thought of resisting had never occurred to her. There had been a strange sense of rightness in the moment, as if through their spats, fights and endless talks they had been moving to this moment. She felt the same tendrils of desire unfurl in the pit of her stomach as she remembered the sensation of his arm around her, pulling her against his hard of his body. The warmth tingled her.
It scared her too.
It would not be good to get into a relationship with Arnav Singh Raizada. The man carried heavy baggage from the past. He was scarred – from his own accident and his handicap, his father’s death, the hatred for the girl who he thought had come between him and his father. What would happen when he learnt that it was her?
No. She should avoid him and run away.
But the thought crumpled something inside her. It dulled the excitement and aroused a sense of discomfort, almost akin to sadness.
Indeed her reactions to Arnav Singh Raizada were scaring her to no end. What was she going to do?
Hours later as the sunlight broke through the curtains, Khushi was still pondering over the same question. The night had been restless, where she dreamt intermittently of Arnav who kissed her with passion and then told her how he hated her for tarnishing his father’s memories.
Unlike the other mornings, where she would rush to work and put in an hour and half preparing the painting she would be restoring before breakfast, Khushi spent the morning in bed. With her dreams and the last evening still vivid in the mind, she felt strangely shy and reluctant to face Arnav just yet. She would have to soon, but she could take some time, couldn’t she?
It was only when she had heard Anijili’s laughter that she went downstairs to the dining room. Nisha and Aditi were telling their Mamu about their fight in the school while Anjili hovered around the table. But it was the hooded brown eyes that pinned her as soon as she entered. She could feel his eyes on her as she walked to the table and took the chair. He sat straight, barely moving, nodding when Aditi or Nisha asked for something. There was something strange, almost hostile in his attitude. It confused Khushi.
‘I trust you slept well, Ms Gupta,’ he bit out as she took a toast.
‘Yes. Thank you,’ she nodded in confusion and looked away. Khushi’s eyes fell on Nisha, who looked at her mama and then turned to her, her little eyes narrow with distrust. Khushi tried to smile but the girl did not return the smile.
‘Hope all was well, yesterday, Khushi,’ Anjili seemed unaware of the tension simmering around the table. ‘I had to go early. The girls were alone.’
‘Yes…yes. All is well. I was just a little tired and went to bed early.’
‘And delayed the work in the morning. I must tell you Ms. Gupta that you have only two weeks now to finish the paintings and leave.’
Khushi’s eyes flew up in dismay as she heard Anjili gasp. Why was he being so harsh? Did he regret last evening?
‘Arnav, what do you mean by that? Khushiji is working hard and is doing a wonderful job,’ she said to her brother before turning to Khushi. ‘He doesn’t mean that. We really appreciate what you have done.’
‘But that does not mean that we should forget that she is an outsider, a visitor who would leave us soon. Would be good to remember that and work towards the end of this project, Anjili.’ With that Arnav rose, strapped his walking stick to his hand and left the room.
For more of my writing, Dust of Ages: an 1857 romance, the full story, only on Amazon